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We've put together a guidebook with everything you need to know about Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Written by our specialists, it details destination information, a wildlife guide, some suggested itineraries and plenty more to inspire your holiday. Fill in the form below and if you live in UK, your guidebook will arrive by post within the next couple of days. For those who live abroad, we will send you a link by email which will allow you to download your own copy.
Some of the wildlife that can be spotted on a Sri Lanka holiday...
The teardrop island is particularly proud of its natural bounty, and rightly so. For thousands of years, vast swathes of land have been protected by Sri Lankan royalty, preserved as sanctuaries for nature to thrive and even today, countless areas of protected land exist on the island. Despite its small size, its diverse landscapes, contrasting seasons, unique climate and incredible biodiversity confirm it as an exceptional place for wildlife enthusiasts to enjoy year round.
Whether you’re a culture vulture keen to explore the impressive temples and UNESCO sites of the Cultural Triangle, a wildlife fanatic who hopes to spot the elusive leopard in Yala National Park, or a fervent foodie whose mouth waters at the tantalizing aromas of cardamom and coriander, here's our pick of the top Sri Lankan experiences that are not to be missed...
The Heritance Kandalama
Dambulla, Sri Lanka
Best for: Culture History, Honeymoon, Spa
The Heritance Kandalama is one of the Cultural Triangle’s landmark hotels, and its austere minimalist lines and clever landscaping along a rocky outcrop create magnificent views of ancient Sigiriya and the surrounding mountains.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
The Heritance Kandalama is located in the Cultural Triangle, just a short drive from the centre of Dambulla. Sri Lanka’s famous architect Geoffrey Bawa designed the hotel as an ‘an austere jungle palace'. It has been designed not to sit upon landscape, but to be part of it. Monkeys climb your balcony pillars as if they were trees and swifts nest in the corners of the corridors as if they were cliffs.
The hotel has three swimming pools, including an infinity pool with panoramic views towards Sigiriya rock. There is a well-equipped gym, tennis courts and a Six Senses Spa with an extensive menu of treatments, overlooking the lake.
Dining at the hotel is a spectacular experience, with a wide range of Sri Lankan and international cuisine on offer. You can eat in imaginative locations such as in a cave or barge to make your stay at Kandalama even more memorable. Children are welcome at the hotel, and although there is no specific childcare, babysitters are available on request.
The resort’s 173 rooms and suites are in two hotel wings and decorated in a contemporary minimalist style with huge windows to take advantage of the stunning views. They are luxury havens with polished wooden floors and first class amenities. The Dambulla Wing has gorgeous mountain vistas, while the Sigiriya Wing offers extraordinary views towards Sigiriya. The bathrooms include a rain shower and either a bathtub or Jacuzzi.
There is plenty to do around the Heritance Kandalama. Guests can cycle along quiet roads past rural villages, or take a boat ride to the bird island in the centre of Kandalama Lake, enjoy elephant treks through the forest, or as a special treat, book a sunrise hot air balloon – a simply magical experience.
When to go
Sri Lanka is considered a sunny year round destination; there is always somewhere experiencing good weather on the island. However, there are huge regional differences. The Southwest ‘Yala’ Monsoons brings rain to the west and southwest coast, as well as the hill country, from April/May to September. During this time the north and east coasts are good. The northeast ‘Mahe’ monsoon is less extreme and brings rain to the east and north during October and November. This monsoon can bring a bit of rain to the south as well. Put simply; head to the south, central, hill country and western areas between December and March and ideally head to the north and eastern areas between April and September. We can never guarantee good weather but believe this is a good guide to follow.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
Things to do
Explore the immaculately preserved remnants of Buddhism’s second city. Polonnaruwa is grouped in clumps between enticing forests so that you can walk and cycle your way around giant Buddhas and impressive temples that are over 1,000 years old.
The Sigiriya Rock Fortress
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the 'fortress in the sky' is one of Sri Lanka's most iconic landmarks. This 370-meter-high monument has 1,202 steps, a 5th century palace and 2 giant stone lion paws, as well as spectacular views.
Jeep Safari - Wilpattu National Park
Wilpattu is one of Sri Lanka’s oldest and largest national parks, with an area of over 130,000 hectares. Explore by jeep, driving past natural lakes, scrubland and dense jungle, possibly spotting sloth bear, leopard and wild elephant.
Visit Mihintale, the cradle of Buddhism
Mihintale is an important landmark in Buddhist culture. Climb 1,840 steps in the morning, surrounded by the sights and sounds of traders and pilgrims, before heading to Anuradhapura for a guided tour.
The Sacred City of Anuradhapura
Dating from the sixth century BC and one of Buddhism's holiest sites. A 2,200 year old tree, grown from a cutting of the branch beneath which Buddha found Enlightenment is a highlight. Ancient hospitals and baths add a sense of normality to it all.
Polonnaruwa by bicycle
Enjoy an easy ride through the sights and enchanting ruins of UNESCO protected Polonnaruwa, a highlight of the cultural triangle. It was first declared a capital city by King Vijayabahu I, who defeated Chola invaders in 1070 to reunite the country.
Millennium Elephant Foundation
Visit rescued and orphaned elephants at the Millennium Elephant Foundation (MEF), established in August 1999 as a sanctuary of care, protection and medical services for elephants in Sri Lanka.
Dambulla Rock Cave Temple
The rich history of the huge rock temples involves Indian invaders being driven away through the strength of meditation in the first century BC. Its just as exciting today as you are guided through five intricately carved caves past giant stone statues.
Minneriya National Park
This afternoon experience takes you to Minneriya National Park, home to an enormous population of elephants. Enjoy a game drive with an experienced naturalist.
Aukana Buddha Statue
An architectural marvel of the ancient Sinhalese, the Aukana Buddha statue stands at an impressive 39 feet tall. Visit the statue today alongside a visit to the ancient city of Anuradhapura.
Ritigala Ancient Monastery
Not far from Anuradhapura, Ritigala is a unique nature reserve and an ancient Buddhist monastery dating back to the 1st century. Travel through tropical forest filled with monkeys, birds and butterflies until you reach the monastery.
Private Audience with a Monk in Dambulla
Achieve inner peace whilst listening to tales and teachings of Buddhism from one of the resident temple monks. Afterwards, enjoy ‘Dhamma’, 30 minutes of discussion, practices and customs.
Whale Watching from Mirissa
Explore the waters off Sri Lanka’s south coast from Mirissa fishing harbour. Enjoy 4 hours watching whales, spotting blue whales and spinner dolphin. The best spotting is between December and April.
Anuradhapura by bike
Explore the ancient sacred city of Anuradhapura on a bicycle, riding past highlights such as stupas, bathing tanks, ancient hospitals, and allegedly the oldest tree in the world.